Aric Rosenberg grew up like a lot of other kids in the 1990s, with a love of shoes and hip-hop.
He turned those loves into a career by working at Stankonia Studios, the home of Outkast, and later by opening Epitome, an upscale shoe boutique with a mezuzah on the door at 252 Pharr Road in Buckhead.
The boutique is home to some of the most stylish sneakers found in Atlanta. Every week customers can look forward to shipments of such rare kicks as Yeezy Boots, Comme des Garcons Converse Chuck Taylors, Fenty by Rihanna slides, and the recent Adidas and Daniel Arsham sneaker collaboration.
Rosenberg is known for his alliance with the music industry in Atlanta. For example, he hosts exclusive parties during the BET Hip Hop Awards weekend.
An Orthodox kid from Atlantic City, N.J., he talked to the AJT about how he stays connected to the hip-hop community while running one of the chicest sneaker stores in the city.
AJT: How did you cultivate a love for sneakers? Did you collect them?
Rosenberg: Growing up, I always had shell toes or Chuck Taylors. Hip-hop always had an influence on me. I never considered it collecting; I just always had shoes. When I went to college, I asked my mom to keep my shoes.
AJT: How did you make connections in the hip-hop industry?
Rosenberg: I went to school at Full Sail University to become a sound engineer. I was in the music industry and worked at Stankonia Studios as an assistant engineer. The industry took a dip; I started going to resort shows as a buyer. I grew up buying and discovered I was good at it.
AJT: How do you maintain your connections with the hip-hop industry?
Rosenberg: I look at it like the creative scene. It all ties back to hip-hop music. Being in New York, it’s a creative thing. Right now, I’m working on a collaboration project in October the month of the BET Hip Hop Awards. I would rather focus on one big, impactful event than several small ones.
AJT: How do you choose the sneakers? Like the Comme des Garcons Chuck Taylors?
Rosenberg: The majority of them are exclusive to Epitome. I said I had to have Nike, and when I went to Nike, they liked the visions. It’s
definitely a challenge to stay up on the hottest trends for the newest trends. My fiancée, DJ Martina McFlyy, does all the female buying. She’s the creative director.
AJT: What are some of your favorite sneakers?
Rosenberg: I’m into comfort and style. I like Adidas because they have the best technology. But my clients like the limited products. They all want something not everyone is going to have.
AJT: Who are some of your celebrity clients?
Rosenberg: We have had everyone from Teyana Taylor to Future, 2Chainz and Andre 3000 come in and buy shoes.
AJT: How does growing up Jewish affect your lifestyle in Atlanta?
Rosenberg: I grew up walking to synagogue at Chabad. My parents, Noah and Lili Rosenberg, are Israeli. I grew up in an Israeli community and everyone speaking Hebrew among each other. I keep kosher at home, but not when I’m away from home.
AJT: How does your love of hip-hop extend to Israel?
Rosenberg: I am actually really good friends with Kosha Dillz. I have a lot of Israeli friends who are big in hip-hop over there, like Peled, Axum and Ortega. They are all part of a collective called The Cabinet, and they performed at the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival.